Der Ring des Nibelungen

Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), WWV 86, is a cycle of four German-language epic music dramas composed by Richard Wagner. The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied. The composer termed the cycle a "Bühnenfestspiel" (stage festival play), structured in three days preceded by a Vorabend ("preliminary evening"). It is often referred to as the Ring Cycle, Wagner's Ring, or simply The Ring.

Wagner wrote the libretto and music over the course of about twenty-six years, from 1848 to 1874. The four parts that constitute the Ring cycle are, in sequence:

Although individual works of the sequence have occasionally been performed separately, Wagner intended them to be performed in series. The first performance as a cycle opened the first Bayreuth Festival in 1876, beginning with Das Rheingold on 13 August and ending with Götterdämmerung on 17 August. Opera stage director Anthony Freud stated that Der Ring des Nibelungen "marks the high-water mark of our art form, the most massive challenge any opera company can undertake."[1]

Der Ring des Nibelungen
Music dramas by Richard Wagner
Bühnenbildentwurf Rheingold
Scene 1 of Das Rheingold from the first Bayreuth Festival production of the Bühnenfestspiel in 1876
TranslationThe Ring of the Nibelung
LibrettistRichard Wagner


Wagner's title is most literally rendered in English as The Ring of the Nibelung. The Nibelung of the title is the dwarf Alberich, and the ring in question is the one he fashions from the Rhine Gold. The title therefore denotes "Alberich's Ring".[2] The "-en" suffix in "Nibelungen" can occur in a genitive singular, accusative singular, dative singular, or a plural in any case (in weak masculine German nouns), but the article "des" immediately preceding makes it clear that the genitive singular is intended here. "Nibelungen" is occasionally mistaken as a plural, but the Ring of the Nibelungs (in German Der Ring der Nibelungen) is incorrect.


The cycle is a work of extraordinary scale.[3] Perhaps the most outstanding facet of the monumental work is its sheer length: a full performance of the cycle takes place over four nights at the opera, with a total playing time of about 15 hours, depending on the conductor's pacing. The first and shortest work, Das Rheingold, has no interval and is one continuous piece of music typically lasting around two and a half hours, while the final and longest, Götterdämmerung, takes up to five hours, excluding intervals. The cycle is modelled after ancient Greek dramas that were presented as three tragedies and one satyr play. The Ring proper begins with Die Walküre and ends with Götterdämmerung, with Rheingold as a prelude. Wagner called Das Rheingold a Vorabend or "Preliminary Evening", and Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung were subtitled First Day, Second Day and Third Day, respectively, of the trilogy proper.

The scale and scope of the story is epic. It follows the struggles of gods, heroes, and several mythical creatures over the eponymous magic ring that grants domination over the entire world. The drama and intrigue continue through three generations of protagonists, until the final cataclysm at the end of Götterdämmerung.

The music of the cycle is thick and richly textured, and grows in complexity as the cycle proceeds. Wagner wrote for an orchestra of gargantuan proportions, including a greatly enlarged brass section with new instruments such as the Wagner tuba, bass trumpet and contrabass trombone. Remarkably, he uses a chorus only relatively briefly, in acts 2 and 3 of Götterdämmerung, and then mostly of men with just a few women. He eventually had a purpose-built theatre constructed, the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, in which to perform this work. The theatre has a special stage that blends the huge orchestra with the singers' voices, allowing them to sing at a natural volume. The result was that the singers did not have to strain themselves vocally during the long performances.

List of characters

Gods Mortals Valkyries Rhinemaidens, Giants & Nibelungs Other characters



  • Hunding, Sieglinde's husband, chief of the Neidings (bass)


  • Brünnhilde (soprano)
  • Waltraute (mezzo-soprano)
  • Helmwige (soprano)
  • Gerhilde (soprano)
  • Siegrune (mezzo-soprano)
  • Schwertleite (contralto)
  • Ortlinde (soprano)
  • Grimgerde (contralto)
  • Rossweisse (mezzo-soprano)


  • Woglinde (soprano)
  • Wellgunde (soprano)
  • Flosshilde (mezzo-soprano)


  • Fasolt (bass-baritone/high bass)
  • Fafner, his brother, later turned into a dragon (bass)


  • Alberich (bass-baritone)
  • Mime, his brother, and Siegfried's foster father (tenor)
  • The Voice of a Woodbird (soprano)


Harvard Theatre Collection - Brünnhilde, TS 40.40
Illustration of Brünnhilde by Odilon Redon, 1885

The plot revolves around a magic ring that grants the power to rule the world, forged by the Nibelung dwarf Alberich from gold he stole from the Rhine maidens in the river Rhine. The Ring itself as described by Wagner is a Rune-magic taufr ("tine", or "talisman") intended to rule the feminine multiplicative power by a fearful magical act termed as 'denial of love' ("Liebesverzicht"). With the assistance of the god Loge, Wotan – the chief of the gods – steals the ring from Alberich, but is forced to hand it over to the giants, Fafner and Fasolt in payment for building the home of the gods, Valhalla, or they will take Freia, who provides the gods with the golden apples that keep them young. Wotan's schemes to regain the ring, spanning generations, drive much of the action in the story. His grandson, the mortal Siegfried, wins the ring by slaying Fafner (who slew Fasolt for the ring) – as Wotan intended – but is eventually betrayed and slain as a result of the intrigues of Alberich's son Hagen, who wants the ring for himself. Finally, the Valkyrie Brünnhilde – Siegfried's lover and Wotan's daughter who lost her immortality for defying her father in an attempt to save Siegfried's father Sigmund – returns the ring to the Rhine maidens as she commits suicide on Siegfried's funeral pyre. Hagen is drowned as he attempts to recover the ring. In the process, the gods and Valhalla are destroyed.

Details of the storylines can be found in the articles on each music drama.

Wagner created the story of the Ring by fusing elements from many German and Scandinavian myths and folk tales. The Old Norse Edda supplied much of the material for Das Rheingold, while Die Walküre was largely based on the Völsunga saga. Siegfried contains elements from the Eddur, the Völsunga saga and Thidrekssaga. The final Götterdämmerung, draws from the 12th-century German poem, the Nibelungenlied, which appears to have been the original inspiration for the Ring.[4]

The Ring has been the subject of myriad interpretations. For example, George Bernard Shaw, in The Perfect Wagnerite, argues for a view of The Ring as an essentially socialist critique of industrial society and its abuses. Robert Donington in Wagner's Ring And Its Symbols interprets it in terms of Jungian psychology, as an account of the development of unconscious archetypes in the mind, leading towards individuation.


In his earlier operas (up to and including Lohengrin) Wagner's style had been based, rather than on the Italian style of opera, on the German style as developed by Carl Maria von Weber, with elements of the grand opera style of Giacomo Meyerbeer. However he came to be dissatisfied with such a format as a means of artistic expression. He expressed this clearly in his essay 'A Communication to My Friends', (1851) in which he condemned the majority of modern artists, in painting and in music, as "feminine ... the world of art close fenced from Life, in which Art plays with herself.' Where however the impressions of Life produce an overwhelming 'poetic force', we find the 'masculine, the generative path of Art'.[5]

Wagner unfortunately found that his audiences were not willing to follow where he led them:

The public, by their enthusiastic reception of Rienzi and their cooler welcome of the Flying Dutchman, had plainly shown me what I must set before them if I sought to please. I completely undeceived their expectations; they left the theatre, after the first performance of Tannhäuser, [1845] in a confused and discontented mood. – The feeling of utter loneliness in which I now found myself, quite unmanned me... My Tannhäuser had appealed to a handful of intimate friends alone.[6]

Finally Wagner announces:

I shall never write an Opera more. As I have no wish to invent an arbitrary title for my works, I will call them Dramas ...

I propose to produce my myth in three complete dramas, preceded by a lengthy Prelude (Vorspiel). ...

At a specially-appointed Festival, I propose, some future time, to produce those three Dramas with their Prelude, in the course of three days and a fore-evening. The object of this production I shall consider thoroughly attained, if I and my artistic comrades, the actual performers, shall within these four evenings succeed in artistically conveying my purpose to the true Emotional (not the Critical) Understanding of spectators who shall have gathered together expressly to learn it.[7]

This is his first public announcement of the form of what would become the Ring cycle.

In accordance with the ideas expressed in his essays of the period 1849–51 (including the "Communication" but also "Opera and Drama" and "The Artwork of the Future"), the four parts of the Ring were originally conceived by Wagner to be free of the traditional operatic concepts of aria and operatic chorus. The Wagner scholar Curt von Westernhagen identified three important problems discussed in "Opera and Drama" which were particularly relevant to the Ring cycle: the problem of unifying verse stress with melody; the disjunctions caused by formal arias in dramatic structure, and the way in which opera music could be organised on a different basis of organic growth and modulation; and the function of musical motifs in linking elements of the plot whose connections might otherwise be inexplicit. This became known as the leitmotif technique (see below), although Wagner himself did not use this word.[8]

However, Wagner relaxed some aspects of his self-imposed restrictions somewhat as the work progressed. As George Bernard Shaw sardonically (and slightly unfairly)[9] noted of the last opera Götterdämmerung:

And now, O Nibelungen Spectator, pluck up; for all allegories come to an end somewhere... The rest of what you are going to see is opera, and nothing but opera. Before many bars have been played, Siegfried and the wakened Brynhild, newly become tenor and soprano, will sing a concerted cadenza; plunge on from that to a magnificent love duet...The work which follows, entitled Night Falls on the Gods [Shaw's translation of Götterdämmerung], is a thorough grand opera.[10]



As a significant element in the Ring and his subsequent works, Wagner adopted the use of leitmotifs, which are recurring themes or harmonic progressions. They musically denote an action, object, emotion, character, or other subject mentioned in the text or presented onstage. Wagner referred to them in "Opera and Drama" as "guides-to-feeling", describing how they could be used to inform the listener of a musical or dramatic subtext to the action onstage in the same way as a Greek chorus did for the theatre of ancient Greece. Although other composers before Wagner had already used similar techniques, the Ring was a landmark in the extent to which they were employed, as well as in the ingenuity of their combination and development.


Wagner made significant innovations in orchestration in this work. He wrote for a very large orchestra, using the whole range of instruments used singly or in combination to express the great range of emotion and events of the drama. Wagner even commissioned the production of new instruments, including the Wagner tuba, invented to fill a gap he found between the tone qualities of the horn and the trombone, as well as variations of existing instruments, such as the bass trumpet and a contrabass trombone with a double slide. He also developed the "Wagner bell", enabling the bassoon to reach the low A-natural, whereas normally B-flat is the instrument's lowest note. If such a bell is not to be used, then a contrabassoon should be employed.

All four parts have a very similar instrumentation. The core ensemble of instruments are one piccolo, three flutes (third doubling second piccolo), three oboes, cor anglais (doubling fourth oboe), three soprano clarinets, one bass clarinet, three bassoons; eight horns (fifth through eight doubling Wagner tubas), three trumpets, one bass trumpet, three tenor trombones, one contrabass trombone (doubling bass trombone), one contrabass tuba; a percussion section with 4 timpani (requiring two players), triangle, cymbals, glockenspiel; six harps and a string section consisting of 16 first and second violins, 12 violas, 12 violoncellos, and 8 double basses.

Das Rheingold requires one bass drum, one tam-tam, one onstage harp and 18 onstage anvils. Die Walküre requires one snare drum, tam-tam, and an on-stage steerhorn. Siegfried requires one onstage cor anglais and one onstage horn. Götterdämmerung requires five onstage horns and four onstage steerhorns, one of them to be blown by Hagen.


Much of the Ring, especially from Siegfried act 3 onwards, cannot be said to be in traditional, clearly defined keys for long stretches, but rather in 'key regions', each of which flows smoothly into the following. This fluidity avoided the musical equivalent of clearly defined musical paragraphs, and assisted Wagner in building the work's huge structures. Tonal indeterminacy was heightened by the increased freedom with which he used dissonance and chromaticism. Chromatically altered chords are used very liberally in the Ring, and this feature, which is also prominent in Tristan und Isolde, is often cited as a milestone on the way to Arnold Schoenberg's revolutionary break with the traditional concept of key and his dissolution of consonance as the basis of an organising principle in music.

Composition of the Ring cycle

The text

In summer 1848 Wagner wrote The Nibelung Myth as Sketch for a Drama, combining the medieval sources previously mentioned into a single narrative, very similar to the plot of the eventual Ring cycle, but nevertheless with substantial differences. Later that year he began writing a libretto entitled Siegfrieds Tod ("Siegfried's Death"). He was possibly stimulated by a series of articles in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, inviting composers to write a 'national opera' based on the Nibelungenlied, a 12th-century High German poem which, since its rediscovery in 1755, had been hailed by the German Romantics as the "German national epic". Siegfrieds Tod dealt with the death of Siegfried, the central heroic figure of the Nibelungenlied. The idea had occurred to others – the correspondence of Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn in 1840/41 reveals that they were both outlining scenarios on the subject: Fanny wrote 'The hunt with Siegfried's death provides a splendid finale to the second act'.[11]

By 1850, Wagner had completed a musical sketch (which he abandoned) for Siegfrieds Tod. He now felt that he needed a preliminary opera, Der junge Siegfried ("The Young Siegfried", later renamed to "Siegfried"), to explain the events in Siegfrieds Tod, and his verse draft of this was completed in May 1851. By October, he had made the momentous decision to embark on a cycle of four operas, to be played over four nights: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Der Junge Siegfried and Siegfrieds Tod; the text for all four parts was completed in December 1852, and privately published in February 1853.

The music

In November 1853, Wagner began the composition draft of Das Rheingold. Unlike the verses, which were written as it were in reverse order, the music would be composed in the same order as the narrative. Composition proceeded until 1857, when the final score up to the end of act 2 of Siegfried was completed. Wagner then laid the work aside for twelve years, during which he wrote Tristan und Isolde and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

By 1869, Wagner was living at Tribschen on Lake Lucerne, sponsored by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. He returned to Siegfried, and, remarkably, was able to pick up where he left off. In October, he completed the final work in the cycle. He chose the title Götterdämmerung instead of Siegfrieds Tod. In the completed work the gods are destroyed in accordance with the new pessimistic thrust of the cycle, not redeemed as in the more optimistic originally planned ending. Wagner also decided to show onstage the events of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, which had hitherto only been presented as back-narration in the other two parts. These changes resulted in some discrepancies in the cycle, but these do not diminish the value of the work.


First productions

Amalie Materna, the first Bayreuth Brünnhilde, with Cocotte, the horse donated by King Ludwig to play her horse Grane
The Rhinemaidens in the first Bayreuth production in 1876

On King Ludwig's insistence, and over Wagner's objections, "special previews" of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre were given at the National Theatre in Munich, before the rest of the Ring. Thus, Das Rheingold premiered on 22 September 1869, and Die Walküre on 26 June 1870. Wagner subsequently delayed announcing his completion of Siegfried to prevent this work also being premiered against his wishes.

Wagner had long desired to have a special festival opera house, designed by himself, for the performance of the Ring. In 1871, he decided on a location in the Bavarian town of Bayreuth. In 1872, he moved to Bayreuth, and the foundation stone was laid. Wagner would spend the next two years attempting to raise capital for the construction, with scant success; King Ludwig finally rescued the project in 1874 by donating the needed funds. The Bayreuth Festspielhaus opened in 1876 with the first complete performance of the Ring, which took place from 13 to 17 August.

In 1882, London impresario Alfred Schulz-Curtius organized the first staging in the United Kingdom of the Ring cycle, conducted by Anton Seidl and directed by Angelo Neumann.[12]

The first production of the Ring in Italy was in Venice (the place where Wagner died), just two months after his 1883 death, at La Fenice.[13]

The first Australasian Ring (and The Mastersingers of Nuremberg) was presented by the Thomas Quinlan company Melbourne and Sydney in 1913.

Modern productions

The Ring is a major undertaking for any opera company: staging four interlinked operas requires a huge commitment both artistically and financially; hence, in most opera houses, production of a new Ring cycle will happen over a number of years, with one or two operas in the cycle being added each year. The Bayreuth Festival, where the complete cycle is performed most years, is unusual in that a new cycle is almost always created within a single year.

Early productions of the Ring cycle stayed close to Wagner's original Bayreuth staging. Trends set at Bayreuth have continued to be influential. Following the closure of the Festspielhaus during the Second World War, the 1950s saw productions by Wagner's grandsons Wieland and Wolfgang Wagner (known as the 'New Bayreuth' style), which emphasised the human aspects of the drama in a more abstract setting.[14]

Gwyneth Chéreau (großer)
Gwyneth Jones performing at the 1976 Bayreuth production of Der Ring des Nibelungen, conducted by Pierre Boulez and directed by Patrice Chéreau

Perhaps the most famous modern production was the centennial production of 1976, the Jahrhundertring, directed by Patrice Chéreau and conducted by Pierre Boulez.[15] Set in the industrial revolution, it replaced the depths of the Rhine with a hydroelectric power dam and featured grimy sets populated by men and gods in 19th and 20th century business suits. This drew heavily on the reading of the Ring as a revolutionary drama and critique of the modern world, famously expounded by George Bernard Shaw in The Perfect Wagnerite. Early performances were booed but the audience of 1980 gave it a 45-minute ovation in its final year;[16][17] the production is now generally regarded as revolutionary and a classic.

Although many Ring productions try to remain close to Wagner's original stage design and direction, others seek to re-interpret the Ring for modern audiences, often including decor and action that Wagner himself did not envisage. The production by Peter Hall, conducted by Georg Solti at Bayreuth in 1983 is an example of the former, while the production by Richard Jones at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in 1994–1996, conducted by Bernard Haitink, is an example of the latter.

In 2003 the first production of the cycle in Russia in modern times was conducted by Valery Gergiev at the Mariinsky Opera, Saint Petersburg, designed by George Tsypin. The production drew parallels with Ossetian mythology.[18]

The Royal Danish Opera performed a complete Ring cycle in May 2006 in its new waterfront home, the Copenhagen Opera House. This version of the Ring tells the story from the viewpoint of Brünnhilde and has a distinct feminist angle. For example, in a key scene in Die Walküre, it is Sieglinde and not Siegmund who manages to pull the sword Nothung out of a tree. At the end of the cycle, Brünnhilde does not die, but instead gives birth to Siegfried's child.[19]

The Canadian Opera Company celebrated the opening of its new home, the Four Seasons Centre, by performing three complete Ring Cycles in September 2006. Each part of the cycle had a different director.

San Francisco Opera and Washington National Opera began a co-production of a new cycle in 2006 directed by Francesca Zambello. The production uses imagery from various eras of American history and has a feminist and environmentalist viewpoint. Recent performances of this production took place at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. in April/May 2016, featuring Catherine Foster and Nina Stemme as Brünnhilde, Daniel Brenna as Siegfried, and Alan Held as Wotan.[20]

Los Angeles Opera presented its first Ring cycle in 2010 directed by Achim Freyer.[21] Freyer staged an abstract production that was praised by many critics but criticized by some of its own stars.[22] The production featured a raked stage, flying props, screen projections and special effects.

Modern costuming shown in closing bows following Siegfried in 2013 at the National Theatre in Munich
Modern costuming shown in closing bows following Götterdämmerung in 2013 at the National Theatre in Munich. Left to right: Gunther, the 3 Rhinemaidens, Gutrune, Hagen, Brünnhilde, Siegfried

The Metropolitan Opera began a new Ring cycle in 2010, conducted by James Levine with Bryn Terfel as Wotan. Deborah Voigt was Brünnhilde in the April 2011 production of Die Walküre. The staging of Das Rheingold by Robert Lepage involved 24 identical wedges able to rotate independently on a horizontal axis across the stage, providing level, sloping, angled or moving surfaces facing the audience. Bubbles, falling stones and fire are projected on to these surfaces, linked by computer with the music and movement of the characters. In 2013, The Met's orchestra and chorus were awarded the Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording for their performance of Der Ring des Nibelungen.[23]

Opera Australia presented The Ring Cycle at the State Theatre in Melbourne, Australia, in November 2013, directed by Neil Armfield and conducted by Pietari Inkinen. Classical Voice America heralded the production as "one of the best Rings anywhere in a long time."[24] The production was presented again in Melbourne from 21 November to 16 December 2016 starring Lise Lindstrom, Stefan Vinke, Amber Wagner and Jacqueline Dark.[25]

It is possible to perform The Ring with fewer resources than usual. In 1990, the City of Birmingham Touring Opera (now Birmingham Opera Company), presented a two-evening adaptation (by Jonathan Dove) for a limited number of solo singers, each doubling several roles, and 18 orchestral players.[26] This version was subsequently given productions in the USA.[27] A heavily cut-down version (7 hours plus intervals) was performed at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires on 26 November 2012 to mark the 200th anniversary of Wagner's birth.[28]

Other treatments of the Ring cycle

Orchestral versions of the Ring Cycle, summarizing the work in a single movement of an hour or so, have been made by Leopold Stokowski, Lorin Maazel (Der Ring ohne Worte) (1988) and Henk de Vlieger (The Ring: an Orchestral Adventure), (1991).[29]

English-Canadian comedian and singer Anna Russell recorded a twenty-two minute version of the Ring for her album "Anna Russell Sings! Again?" in 1953, characterized by camp humour and sharp wit.[30]

Produced by the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, Charles Ludlam's 1977 play Der Ring Gott Farblonjet was a spoof of Wagner's operas. The show received a well-reviewed 1990 revival in New York at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.[31]

Books cited

  • Burbidge, Peter and Richard Sutton, The Wagner Companion, London, 1979. ISBN 0571114504
  • Cooke, Deryck, I Saw the World End: A Study of Wagner's Ring. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000 ISBN 0193153181.
  • Fifield, Christopher. Ibbs and Tillett: The Rise and Fall of a Musical Empire (Chapter 3, pp. 25–26). London: Ashgate Publishing, 2005. ISBN 1-84014-290-1, ISBN 9781840142907.
  • Magee, Bryan, (1988) Aspects of Wagner. Oxford University Press, ISBN 0192840126.
  • Mendelssohn, Fanny, ed. Marcia Citron (1987) Letters of Fanny Hensel to Felix Mendelssohn. Pendragon Press ISBN 978-0-918728-52-4
  • Millington, Barry (2008) "Der Ring des Nibelungen: conception and interpretation," in Grey, Thomas S. (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Wagner, pp. 74–84, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521644396.
  • Wagner, Richard, tr. William Ashton Ellis (1994), The Art Work of the Future, and other works, Lincoln and London. ISBN 9780803297524. "A Communication to My Friends" is on pp. 269–392.
  • Shaw, George Bernard (1898) The Perfect Wagnerite.[32]

References and notes

  1. ^ von Rhein, John (September 21, 2016). "An epic beginning for Lyric's new Wagner 'Ring' cycle". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 17, 2017.
  2. ^ Magee (2001), p. 109
  3. ^ "Wagner in Russia:Ringing in the century". The Economist. June 12, 2003. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  4. ^ For a detailed examination of Wagner's sources for the Ring and his treatment of them, see, among other works, Deryck Cooke's unfinished study of the Ring, I Saw the World End, and Ernest Newman's Wagner Nights. Also useful is a translation by Stewart Spencer (Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung: Companion, edited by Barry Millington) which, as well as containing essays, including one on the source material which provides an English translation of the entire text that strives to remain faithful to the early medieval Stabreim technique Wagner used.
  5. ^ Wagner (1994) 287
  6. ^ Wagner (1994) 336–7
  7. ^ Wagner (1994) 391 and n.
  8. ^ Burbidge and Sutton, (1979), pp. 345–6
  9. ^ Millington (2008) 80
  10. ^ Shaw (1898) section: "Back to Opera Again"
  11. ^ Letter of 9 December 1840. See Mendelssohn (1987), pp. 299–301
  12. ^ Fifield (2005), pp. 25f
  13. ^ Posted by Boydell and Brewer (2008-12-02). "From Beyond the Stave: The Lion roars for Wagner". Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  14. ^ "Productions – Wieland Wagner, New Bayreuth". Wagner Operas. 2012-03-03. Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  15. ^ "The 1976 Bayreuth Centennial Ring",, retrieved 2 December 2011
  16. ^ Kozinn, Allan (7 October 2013). "Patrice Chéreau, Opera, Stage and Film Director, Dies at 68". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  17. ^ Millington, Barry (8 October 2013). "Patrice Chéreau and the bringing of dramatic conviction to the opera house". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
  18. ^ "Mariinsky Theatre brings Ring Cycle to Covent Garden in Summer 2009", 1 March 2009, retrieved 1 December 2011
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Ring Cycle". John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. 2016-05-22. Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  21. ^ Diane Haithman (2009-02-15). "Achim Freyer is consumed by The Ring of the Nibelung". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  22. ^ Adams, Guy (2010-05-15). "Wagner star and director clash in US costume drama". The Independent. Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  23. ^ "55th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominees: Classical". Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  24. ^ "Bedeviled Ring Seemed Doomed, Then Curtain Rose". 2013-12-14. Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  25. ^ "It's a Wrap: The Melbourne Ring". Classic Melbourne. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  26. ^ "The Ring Saga". 2013. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  27. ^ Croan, Robert (18 July 2006). "Opera Review: Abridged staging of classic Wagner cycle rings true – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  28. ^ Samira Schellhaaß (27 September 2012). "The Ring in Teatro Colón". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  29. ^ [1] Archived 14 May 2016 at the Portuguese Web Archive
  30. ^ [2]
  31. ^ Gussow, Mel (13 April 1990). "Der Ring Gott Farblonjet: review". The New York Times.
  32. ^ "The Perfect Wagnerite: a Commentary on the Niblung's Ring, by Bernard Shaw". Retrieved 2017-04-29.

Further reading

  • Besack, Michael, The Esoteric Wagner – an introduction to Der Ring des Nibelungen, Berkeley: Regent Press, 2004 ISBN 9781587900747.
  • Di Gaetani, John Louis, Penetrating Wagner's Ring: An Anthology. New York: Da Capo Press, 1978. ISBN 9780306804373.
  • Gregor-Dellin, Martin, (1983) Richard Wagner: His Life, His Work, His Century. Harcourt, ISBN 0151771510.
  • Holman, J.K. Wagner's Ring: A Listener's Companion and Concordance. Portland OR: Amadeus Press, 2001.
  • Lee, M. Owen, (1994) Wagner's Ring: Turning the Sky Round. Amadeus Press, ISBN 9780879101862.
  • Magee, Bryan, (2001) The Tristan chord: Wagner and Philosophy. Metropolitan Books, ISBN 0805067884.
  • May, Thomas, (2004) Decoding Wagner. Amadeus Press, ISBN 9781574670974.
  • Millington, Barry (editor) (2001) The Wagner Compendium. Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0500282749.
  • Sabor, Rudolph, (1997) Richard Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen: a companion volume. Phaidon Press, ISBN 0714836508.
  • Spotts, Frederick, (1999) Bayreuth: A History of the Wagner Festival. Yale University Press ISBN 0712652779.

External links


In German heroic legend, Alberich (German: [ˈalbɛʁɪç]) is a dwarf. He features most prominently in the poems Nibelungenlied and Ortnit. He also features in the Old Norse collection of German legends called the Thidreksaga under the name Alfrikr. His name means "ruler of supernatural beings (elves)", and is equivalent to Old French Auberon (English Oberon).The name was later used for a character in Richard Wagner's opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen.


In Norse mythology, Andvari (Old Norse "careful one") is a dwarf who lives underneath a waterfall and has the power to change himself into a pike (gedda) at will.

Andvari had a magical ring Andvaranaut, which helped him become wealthy. Using a net provided by Ran, Loki catches him as a pike and forces him to give up his gold and Andvaranaut. Andvari cursed the stolen gold which would destroy anyone who possessed it. After the deaths of Brynhild and Sigurd, Gunnar left Andvari's gold in a cave. Years later, Andvari discovered the cave and his lost gold, although his ring was lost forever.

In Richard Wagner's cycle of music dramas, Der Ring des Nibelungen, the character Alberich is a combination of Andvari and the character of Alberich from the Nibelungenlied.

Bayreuth Festival

The Bayreuth Festival (German: Bayreuther Festspiele) is a music festival held annually in Bayreuth, Germany, at which performances of operas by the 19th-century German composer Richard Wagner are presented. Wagner himself conceived and promoted the idea of a special festival to showcase his own works, in particular his monumental cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen and Parsifal.

Performances take place in a specially designed theatre, the Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Wagner personally supervised the design and construction of the theatre, which contained many architectural innovations to accommodate the huge orchestras for which Wagner wrote as well as the composer's particular vision about the staging of his works.

The Festival has become a pilgrimage destination for Wagner enthusiasts.

Composition of Der Ring des Nibelungen

The evolution of Richard Wagner's operatic tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) was a long and tortuous process, and the precise sequence of events which led the composer to embark upon such a vast undertaking is still unclear. The composition of the text took place between 1848 and 1853, when all four libretti were privately printed; but the closing scene of the final opera, Götterdämmerung, was revised a number of times between 1856 and 1872. The names of the last two Ring operas, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, were probably not definitively settled until 1856.

Das Rheingold discography

This is a partial discography of Das Rheingold, the first of the four operas that comprise Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), by Richard Wagner.

The length of the Ring cycle meant that in the pre-LP days (before 1948) recordings from the Ring operas were largely confined to excerpts. In 1929 Franz von Hoesslin and the Walther Staram Concert Orchestra issued recorded excerpts from Das Rheingold on five 78rpm discs. The first recording of the complete Rheingold was taken from a New York Metropolitan Opera production in 1937, with Artur Bodanzky conducting. Most of the recordings that followed it were also taken from live performances, often from the Bayreuth Festival. The first studio recording was that of Georg Solti with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, in 1958 – part of Solti's Ring cycle recording which was not completed until 1966.

Der Ring des Nibelungen discography

The four operas of Richard Wagner's cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen together take about 15 hours, which makes for several records, tapes, or CDs, and a lot of studio time. For this reason, many full Ring recordings are the result of "unofficial" recording of live performances, particularly from the Bayreuth Festival where new productions are often broadcast by German radio. Live recordings, especially those in monaural, may have very variable sound but often preserve the excitement of a performance better than a studio recording.

Der gerettete Alberich

Der gerettete Alberich is a concerto for percussion and orchestra by the American composer Christopher Rouse. The work was jointly commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. It was completed June 7, 1997, and premiered January 15, 1998 in Cleveland, Ohio with the Cleveland Orchestra under conductor Christoph von Dohnányi. The piece is dedicated to percussionist Evelyn Glennie, who performed the solo during the world premiere. Rouse composed the work as an informal musical sequel to Richard Wagner's four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen.

Die Walküre discography

This is a partial discography of the opera Die Walküre by Richard Wagner. It was first performed at the National Theatre Munich on 26 June 1870.

Expecting Someone Taller

Expecting Someone Taller is the first humorous fantasy novel by popular British author Tom Holt. It was first published in hardcover in 1987, by Macmillan Publishers in the United Kingdom, and by St. Martin's Press in the United States. A UK paperback edition was released in 1988 by Futura Orbit in 1988, and a US paperback edition was released in 1990 by Ace Books. The book was released in the 5th omnibus of Holt's books entitled Tall Stories.

The book is intended as a humorous sequel of sorts to Wagner's epic opera cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen (or The Ring of the Nibelung), but is primarily set in contemporary England.

Gram (mythology)

In Norse mythology, Gram (Old Norse Gramr, meaning Wrath) is the sword that Sigurd used to kill the dragon Fafnir. It is primarily used by the Volsungs in the Volsunga Saga. However, it is also seen in other legends, such as the Thidrekssaga wielded by Hildebrand.


Götterdämmerung (German: [ˈɡœtɐˌdɛməʁʊŋ] (listen); Twilight of the Gods), WWV 86D, is the last in Richard Wagner's cycle of four music dramas titled Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung, or The Ring for short). It received its premiere at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 17 August 1876, as part of the first complete performance of the Ring.

The title is a translation into German of the Old Norse phrase Ragnarök, which in Norse mythology refers to a prophesied war among various beings and gods that ultimately results in the burning, immersion in water, and renewal of the world. However, as with the rest of the Ring, Wagner's account diverges significantly from his Old Norse sources.

Götterdämmerung discography

This is a discography of Götterdämmerung, the fourth of the four operas that make up Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), by Richard Wagner, which received its premiere at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 17 August 1876.


The Jahrhundertring (Centenary Ring) was the production of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen, at the Bayreuth Festival in 1976, celebrating the centenary of both the festival and the first performance of the complete cycle. The festival was directed by Wolfgang Wagner and the production was created by the French team of conductor Pierre Boulez, stage director Patrice Chéreau, stage designer Richard Peduzzi, costume designer Jacques Schmidt and lighting designer André Diot. The cycle was shown first in 1976, then in the following years until 1980. It was filmed for television in 1979 and 1980. While the first performance caused "a near-riot" for its brash modernity, the staging established a standard, termed Regietheater (director's theater), for later productions.

Ride of the Valkyries

The "Ride of the Valkyries" (German: Walkürenritt or Ritt der Walküren) refers to the beginning of act 3 of Die Walküre, the second of the four operas constituting Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.

As a separate piece, the "Ride" is often heard in a purely instrumental version, which may be as short as three minutes. Together with the "Bridal Chorus" from Lohengrin, the "Ride of the Valkyries" is one of Wagner's best-known pieces.

Siegfried (opera)

Siegfried, WWV 86C, is the third of the four music dramas that constitute Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), by Richard Wagner. It premiered at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 16 August 1876, as part of the first complete performance of The Ring cycle.

Siegfried Idyll

The Siegfried Idyll, WWV 103, by Richard Wagner is a symphonic poem for chamber orchestra.

Siegfried discography

This is a discography of Siegfried, the third of the four operas that comprise Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), by Richard Wagner, which received its premiere at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 16 August 1876.


Tarnhelm is a magic helmet in Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen (written 1848–1874; first perf. 1876). It was crafted by Mime at the demand of his brother Alberich. It is used as a cloak of invisibility by Alberich in Das Rheingold. It also allows one to change one's form:

Alberich changes to a dragon and then a toad in Das Rheingold, Scene 3.

Fafner changes to a dragon at the end of Das Rheingold and appears thus in Siegfried Act II. (It is never made clear whether Fafner actually used the Tarnhelm to transform, or simply transformed as many giants and gods did in the myths. There is also no Tarnhelm present in the original Andvari myth from Reginsmál in the Poetic Edda from which Wagner drew inspiration for this scene.)

Siegfried changes to Gunther's form in Götterdämmerung Act I, Scene 3.Finally, it allows one to travel long distances instantly, as Siegfried does in Götterdämmerung, Act II.

The Perfect Wagnerite

The Perfect Wagnerite: A Commentary on the Niblung's Ring (originally published London, 1898) is a philosophical commentary on Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, by the Irish writer George Bernard Shaw.

Shaw offered it to those enthusiastic admirers of Wagner who "were unable to follow his ideas, and do not in the least understand the dilemma of Wotan." According to Shaw:

I write this pamphlet for the assistance of those who wish to be introduced to the work on equal terms with that inner circle of adepts...The reason is that its dramatic moments lie quite outside the consciousness of people whose joys and sorrows are all domestic and personal, and whose religions and political ideas are purely conventional and superstitious. To them it is a struggle between half a dozen fairytale personages for a ring, involving hours of scolding and cheating, and one long scene in a dark gruesome mine, with gloomy, ugly music, and not a glimpse of a handsome young man or pretty woman. Only those of wider consciousness can follow it breathlessly, seeing in it the whole tragedy of human history and the whole horror of the dilemmas from which the world is shrinking today.

Shaw interprets the Ring in Marxian terms as an allegory of the collapse of capitalism from its internal contradictions. Musicologically, his interpretation is noteworthy for its perception of the change in aesthetic direction beginning with the final scene of Siegfried, in which he claimed that the cycle turns from Musikdrama back towards opera.

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